Saturday, April 30, 2016


This is a what if question. I suspect there is consternation in high places of some quarters of Rome, the Vatican and the Church universal. What if a living emeritus pope, who appears healthier now than when he abdicated were to say he was compromised by a diagnosis of actual clinical depression or manipulation, internal or external,  to resign and the resignation wasn't truly freely given?

Or what if an emeritus pope who is sick and fading due to age, leaves a written testimony or even a video recording stating the same but isn't released until his death?


I know that it would cause a true schism in the Church but what else would it accomplish?

Has the Church ever undergone something similar in her long history?

But this is what the emeritus pope wrote shortly after Pope Francis was elected. This shows that conspiracy theories abounded immediately upon Pope Benedict's unexpected bombshell. Was the emeritus pope forced to write this even in retirement?????

Pope Benedict Addresses Rumors, Denies Being Pressured To Quit And Explains His Clothes

Updated Feb 26, 2014

Retired Pope Benedict XVI says his decision to quit last year was his alone — that he wasn’t pressured, that he’s not the victim of a conspiracy and that any speculation otherwise is “simply absurd.”

Writing to La Stampa newspaper, the emeritus pope also said there’s just one pope right now, and it’s not him. It’s Pope Francis.

Andrea Tornielli, a reporter for the newspaper, wrote to Benedict to ask about the speculation that still surrounds the decision to become the first pope to retire in nearly 600 years. According to the Vatican Insider website, which is operated by La Stampa, Benedict sent a written reply within two days.

There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry,” he wrote. “The only condition for the validity of my resignation is the complete freedom of my decision.”

Benedict also explained why he continues to wear the robes associated with the papacy.

“I continue to wear the white cassock and kept the name Benedict for purely practical reasons,” he wrote. “At the moment of my resignation there were no other clothes available.”


Article 305 together with footnote 351 of Amoris laetitia has become the primary preoccupation of those who have read the papal exhortation, which when it comes to a papal teaching document is a bit higher than a homily but much lower than an encyclical.

99.9% of Amoris Laetitia is great and would have made a wonderful exhortation. But just as a great, healthy body that is 99.9% healthy can become infected by a virus, the preoccupation is with the resulting effects of the virus on the body despite 99.9% of it being okay, so too is article 305 together with footnote 351 a virus of Amoris Laetitia that can corrupt the entire Church, not only her Deposit of Faith but her people, clergy and laity together.

For anyone to complain that the majority of the critics evaluating Amoris Laetitia seem to ignore the 99.9% of it that is good and only focus on article 305 together with footnote 351 does not understand what viruses do and how a preoccupation with the virus results until it is removed or overcome.

In effect, article 305 together with footnote 351 of Amoris Laetitia is a computer virus. A computer virus as Wikipedia describes it is a malware that, when executed, replicates by reproducing it self or infecting other programs by modifying them. Infecting computer programs can include as well, data files, or the boot sector of the hard drive. When this replication succeeds, the affected areas are then said to be "infected". The term computer virus was a misnomer until it was coined by Fred Cohen in 1985.[6] Viruses often perform some type of harmful activity on infected hosts, such as acquisition of hard disk space or CPU time, accessing private information, corrupting data, displaying political or humorous messages on the user's screen, spamming their contacts, logging their keystrokes, or even rendering the computer useless. However, not all viruses carry a destructive payload or attempt to hide themselves—the defining characteristic of viruses is that they are self-replicating computer programs which install themselves without user consent.

I think you can see the parallels between a computer virus and what it does to the computer and what article 305 with footnote 351 of Amoris Laetitia can do to the inner workings of the Church's Deposit of Faith and her people without them even knowing it. 

The question that one must ask of those responsible for the inclusion of article 305 with footnote 351 of Amoris Laetitia, to include the Holy Father and the one where the buck ultimately stops, was this an intentional virus to corrupt the Church and make her more like liberal Protestantism when it comes to the formulation of moral theology and practice. Was it an intentional subversion, manipulative planting of a virus to promote what appears as orthodoxy but where orthopraxis is thrown recklessly to the wind leading to the triumph of the dictatorship of relativism in the Church?

When one hears from certain Church cardinals that what might be acceptable in one country, for example like Germany, might not be acceptable in countries of Africa and the Church must accommodate both perspectives, this sounds like speaking with a forked tongue to me and dangerously demonic. It is not holy it is evil.

What is the solution? One must take the long view with 20/20 hindsight. Evil never ultimately triumphs in the world or in the Church although both are made to suffer because of it for a time that seems like eternity.

Either the current pope or  future popes will have to steer the barque of Peter back on course but whenever that occurs and it will, in the meantime we must keep the Faith.

Sorry to mix metaphors. A virus usually can't be cured but must run its course until it fizzles. As it concerns the Church, she will be left weakened but with the ability to recover with time, maybe generations. The long view of history is needed today more than ever.

However, the Holy Father himself can give the antidote. Remove the virus and apologize for its inclusion. Pope Benedict, the truly humble pope, would have apologized if it happened to one of his documents intended or not.  

Friday, April 29, 2016


 A person of this man's credentials sounding these alarms in a respectful way has to be taken seriously. Fasten your seat belts!

CNS: A prominent German philosopher has warned that Pope Francis has endangered the unity of the Church by contradicting the teachings of his predecessors in Amoris Laetita.
"Chaos was raised to a principle by the stroke of a pen,” said Robert Spaemann, an influential scholar who is close to Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, in an interview with the Catholic News Agency.

Full text: Interview with Robert Spaemann on Amoris Laetitia

Robert Spaemann before the obelisk in front of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. Credit: Paul Badde/EWTN.
Robert Spaemann before the obelisk in front of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. Credit: Paul Badde/EWTN.

.- Greatly valued as an advisor by Saint John Paul II, a friend of Benedict XVI, and widely held to be the most important German Catholic philosopher of recent decades, Robert Spaemann, emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Munich, expressed a distinctly critical interpretation of Amoris laetitia in this interview with Anian Christoph Wimmer, editor of CNA's German-language edition. Please find below the full text of the interview.

Professor Spaemann, you have accompanied the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI with your philosophy. Many believers are now asking, whether and how Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia should be read in continuity with the teachings of the Church and these previous Popes. How do you see this?

For the most part, it is possible, although the direction allows for consequences which cannot be made compatible with the teaching of the Church. Article 305 together with footnote 351 – in which it is stated that believers can be allowed to the sacraments “in an objective situation of sin” “because of mitigating factors” – directly contradicts article 84 of Pope John Paul II’s exhortation Familiaris consortio.

What then is Pope John Paul II’s exhortation about?

 John Paul II explains human sexuality as a “real symbol for the giving of the whole person,” and namely, “without every temporal or other limitation.”  He thus formulates very clearly in article 84 that remarried divorcés must refrain from sex if they want to go to communion. A change in the practice of the administration of the sacraments would therefore be no “further development of Familiaris consortio,” as Cardinal Kasper said, but rather a breach in her essential anthropological and theological teaching on marriage and human sexuality. The Church has no authority, without prior conversion, to approve disordered sexual relationships through the administration of the sacraments, thereby anticipating God’s mercy - regardless of how these situations are to be judged on a human and moral level. The door here – as with the ordination of women to the priesthood – is closed.
Couldn’t someone object that the anthropological and theological reflections you mentioned are indeed correct – that God’s mercy is not, however, bound to such limits, but it is linked to the concrete situation of the individual person?     

God’s mercy concerns the heart of the Christian faith in the Incarnation and Redemption. Of course, God has each individual person in his or her own situation in view. He knows each person better than they know themselves. The Christian life, however, is not a pedagogical event in which marriage is aimed for as an ideal, as Amoris laetitia appears to suggest in many places. The whole realm of relationships, especially sexual relationships, concerns the dignity of the human person, his or her personhood and freedom. It has to do with the body as a “Temple of God” (1 Cor 6:19). Every violation to this realm, even if it were to occur often, is, therefore, also a violation of one’s relationship to God - to which Christians know they are called – a sin against God’s holiness, and always in need purification and conversion.   

God’s mercy consists in always allowing this conversion anew. Of course, it is not bound to definite limits, but the Church on her part requires a proclamation of conversion and does not have the authority to overstep established boundaries by administering the sacraments, and to abuse God’s mercy. That would be imprudent. Therefore clergy, who comply with the existing order, judge no-one; rather, they take into consideration and announce these boundaries of God’s holiness – a salvific promulgation. I don’t want to comment any further to insinuate that they would “hide behind the Church’s teachings” and “sit on the chair of Moses” so as to throw “stones … at people’s lives” (AL, 305). It may be noted that the respective verses in the Gospel are alluded to mistakenly. Jesus indeed says that the Pharisees and scribes sit on the chair of Moses, but he expressly emphasizes that the disciples should adhere to what they say. They should not, however, live like them (Matt 23:2).       
Pope Francis has stressed that we should not focus on only single sentences of his teachings; rather the whole should be kept in mind.  

Concentrating on the stated passages is fully justified in my eyes. It cannot be expected in a papal exhortation that people will rejoice in a pleasant text and ignore decisive sentences, which change the teachings of the Church. There is actually only a clear yes or no decision:  to give Communion or not. There is no intermediary between them.   

The Holy Father emphasizes in his exhortation that nobody may be allowed to be condemned forever.   

I find it difficult to understand, what he means there. That the Church is not allowed to condemn anyone personally – of course not forever, what she cannot do, thank God – is clear. When it concerns sexual relationships which objectively contradict the Christian way of life, I would like to know from the Pope, after what time and under which circumstances is objectively sinful conduct changed into conduct pleasing to God.    

Is it, in your perspective, actually an issue of a breach with the teaching tradition of the Church?
That it is an issue of a breach emerges doubtlessly for every thinking person, who knows the respective texts.     

Regardless whether or not one agrees with this assessment: the question arises as to how it came to this.  

It was already apparent that Francis views his predecessor Pope John Paul II from a critical distance when he canonized him together with John XXIII, even though a second required miracle was not attributed to the latter. Many felt this to be manipulative. It seemed as if the Pope wanted to relativize the importance of John Paul II.

The actual problem is an influential movement in moral theology, which holds a purely situational ethics, and which can be found as early as the 17th century among the Jesuits. The quotes from Thomas Aquinas, which the Pope cited in Amoris laetitia, appear to support this direction. Here it will be overlooked, however, that Thomas knows objectively sinful actions for which there are no exceptions. Among them is all sexually disordered conduct. John Paul II rejected situational ethics and condemned it in his encyclical Veritatis splendor – as did Karl Rahner before him, in an essay in the 1950s that contained all of these essential and presently valid arguments. Amoris laetitia also challenges Veritatis splendor. With all of this, we cannot forget that it was John Paul II who centered his pontificate on the subject of divine mercy – his second encyclical was devoted to it, the diary of Sister Faustina was discovered in Krakow, and he later named her a saint. He is her authentic interpreter.     
What consequences do you see for the Church?

The consequences are already foreseeable: uncertainty and confusion, from the bishops' conferences to the small parishes in the middle of nowhere. A few days ago, a priest from the Congo expressed to me his perplexity in light of this new papal document and the lack of clear precedents. According to the respective passages from Amoris laetitia, not only remarried divorcés but also everyone living in some certain “irregular situation” could, by further nondescript “mitigating circumstances”, be allowed to confess other sins and receive Communion even without trying to abandon their sexual conduct - that means without confession and conversion. Each priest who adheres to the until-now valid discipline of the sacraments, could be mobbed by the faithful and be put under pressure from his bishop. Rome can now make the stipulation that only “merciful” bishops will be named, who are ready to soften the existing discipline. Chaos was raised to a principle by the stroke of a pen. The Pope must have known that he would split the Church with such a step and lead toward a schism – a schism that would not be settled on the peripheries, but rather in the heart of the Church. May God forbid that from happening.  
One thing, however, seems clear to me: the concern of this Pope – that the Church should overcome her own self-referencing in order to be able to free-heartedly approach persons – has been destroyed by this papal document for an unforeseeable amount of time. A secularizing push and the further decrease in the number of priests in many parts of the world are also to be expected. It has been able to be observed for quite some time that bishops and diocese with a clear stance on faith and morality have the greatest increase in priests. We must remember the words of St. Paul in the Letter to the Corinthians:  “If the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8).

In your opinion, where do we go from here?  

Every single cardinal, but also every bishop and priest, is called upon to preserve uprightly the Catholic discipline of the sacraments within his realm of responsibility and to confess it publicly. In case the Pope is not ready to make corrections, it remains reserved for a later Pope to officially make things right.    

Translation by Richard Andrew Krema.


Although the community described below is west of Augusta, the history it describes is almost identical to Augusta's Catholic history of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. Most Holy Trinity's new church dates to an 1857 groundbreaking and the naming of French St. Vincent de Paul as Most Holy Trinity's patronal saint  by its former pastor of 30 years but then second Bishop of Savannah, John Barry who today is buried in the crypt of the church with about 12 other priests.

However, like The Church of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Sharon, Georgia, Most Holy Trinity's beginnings are in the late 1700's as well with French settlers coming to the area to escape the French Revolution in France. They are the same group but spread out. Most Holy Trinity's original church building on the same property as the new (but torn down) dates to 1810.  Both the Sharon Church and the original Most Holy Trinity are almost identical.

However, between its original naming of French St. Vincent de Paul and the dedication of the new Church in 1863, Bishop Barry had died and the ascendancy of the Irish who began to take over the parish in the 1840's was capped by the dethroning and humiliation of the French Saint Vincent de Paul whose large iron statue was removed and destroyed and buried behind the church. The Irish Saint Patrick was crowned the patron saint of Most Holy Trinity and popularly called St. Patrick Catholic Church until 1971 when it original and canonical name was used once again after the merger of three parishes into Most Holy Trinity.

But here's the story of what some say is the oldest Catholic community in Georgia, but Augusta and this community are closely linked:

Sharon, GA --  The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta, will conduct a special groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. in Sharon to mark the formal start of restorations to the Church of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Georgia’s first Catholic Church.

The Church of the Purification dates from 1790, when a small band of English Catholics from Baltimore arrived in what is now Taliaferro County to set up a farming community.   They built a simple log cabin church.   With the death of some of the settlers in 1794, they established a cemetery next to it.   The community came to be known as Locust Grove.

French Catholics fleeing the revolution in their country soon joined them. Later, Irish settlers came, including the ancestors of famed authors Margaret Mitchell and Flannery O’Connor.  Sometime between 1818 and 1821 the Sisters of St. Joseph, a French order, arrived and established the first Catholic school in Georgia, chartered as Locust Grove Academy.   Three future governors of Georgia were educated there.

In 1821, the original log church was replaced by a larger wood frame structure.  By 1840, Locust Grove was the center of Catholic life in Georgia. (My comment: This is a bit of a stretch or hyperbole as Augusta by 1840 was the center of Catholic life in Georgia, not Locust Grove and Augusta's new Church begun by the Second Bishop of Georgia, John Barry who had been pastor of Most Holy Trinity in the 1840's designed the new church to eventually become the cathedral. However, divisiveness of the Irish and the ascendancy of trustee-ism in American Catholicism in the 1860's derailed that dream! Augusta was a hotbed of trustee-ism in America of that period.)

In later years, with the establishment of a railroad line two miles to the west, the growth of the new community of Sharon and the movement of settlers to better farming opportunities elsewhere, Locust Grove gradually died away.   In 1877, the Church of the Purification relocated to Sharon.   The wood frame church was dismantled for the move.

In 1883, a new church was built.(My comment: Most Holy Trinity in Augusta's new church was built in 1857 and still stands completely restored today as a vibrant downtown parish)   It is this structure that stands in disrepair today in Sharon.

With the formation of a Friends group in 2012, a campaign to promote the history of the Church of the Purification and to raise funds for its restoration was launched.  Phase One of the restorations will encompass significant structural enhancements to the building’s foundation and roof system, including the bell tower. The existing roof will be replaced and the original 12 over 12 double hung wood windows will be restored to operable condition. The electrical and mechanical systems will also be evaluated and upgraded as appropriate.

The immediate goal of the campaign is to restore the Church to its 1883 appearance and enable its use once again for liturgical services. The longer term goal is to develop the Church of the Purification into a heritage destination and retreat center with regular services and programs.

Media is welcome.

To learn more, please visit


Let's face it, the Holy Father is ambiguous. On one hand, he is quite traditional when it comes to popular piety. Why? Because he is quite progressive. Popular piety does not hinge on a priest or deacon (except for Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament). It is called popular because anyone can lead it and anywhere. Preferably popular piety finds its home in family homes and on the streets of the secular city.

When it comes to the theology of the devil and hell, Pope Francis has clearly and often spoken about both but in a carrot and stick sort of way. This is quite traditional on one hand, but progressive on the other in the sense that his manner of speaking of the devil and hell is disarming, not shrill. It is also progressive for His Holiness to ask, "who am I to judge?"

But the true bombshell in terms of this pope's ambiguity is that His Holiness who is perceived by traditionalists to be ultra progressive, may be the very pope to reconcile to the Church the SSPX and completely so.  And the other bombshell in association with this is that the SSPX gets everything it wants, meaning its rejection of some of the pastoral theology/ideology of the Second Vatican Council as it concerns religious liberty, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and dialogue with the secular world to include atheists and agnostics.  But more importantly they will be permitted to reject the revised Order of the Mass, if reports are accurate. This would seem to make Pope Francis an ultra-traditionalist.

But no! The progressive Pope Francis is showing true liberality in this regard and what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Progressives, of course, have had the upper hand in the Church since Vatican II, but they are disorganized unlike the SSPX which as a conservative movement is quite organized and legalistic.

We have not seen Pope Francis condemn to many progressive ideas, theology or ideologies. He never accuses them of being doctors of the law with their small minded rules which is a negative epitaph in Pope Francis' lexicon.  That name calling is reserved for conservatives.

So Pope Francis himself embraces the Second Vatican Council's  religious liberty, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and dialogue with the secular world to include atheists and agnostics with a vengeance.

We have yet to hear him say very much about the Liturgy and that the reform of the liturgy was derailed by liberals. In South America, as Cardinal Jorge Bergolio, he watched a salacious tango performed in front of him and the altar in a church as a postlude to the Mass.

He was seen celebrating youth Masses where puppets where  used as a gimmick.

Of course none of this has happened since he became pope.

Thus one can assume that the enigma of Pope Francis can allow for one group in the Church to reject significant portions of Vatican II and another group interpret the documents in the most liberal sort of way and find confirmation of that interpretation in the Holy Father himself.

Thus this Pope who leans left allows the right to have their way. But again, what's good for the goose is good for the gander--the left will be allowed to have their way too and both need to coexist in the Church that allows for traditional liturgy, piety, theology and sexual morality and progressive liturgy, lack of piety, theology and theology.

Can the two coexist? In my parish, for the most part yes and happily so. We have a large EF Community and an EF Mass celebrated on Sunday at a regularly scheduled Mass time and one of those Masses ad orientem every Sunday.

No one has complained to me about it, although the EFs complain that the EF Mass isn't every Sunday. But there isn't any vitriol about the EFs as their would have been toward the pre-Vatican II types in the 1970's and 80's.

Maybe we are growing up as a Church and Pope Francis is leading the way to the circus maximus of big tent Catholicism--or a more Biblical image, the Church that is the dragnet in this life where only God judges in the next life what is kept or thrown out?

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Father Scott Winchel is a priest of the Diocese of Savannah and will be going places. This is a great convert story! He is for the time being the pastor of a tiny semi-rural parish in Cordele, Georgia, St. Theresa's.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Pope Francis may soon offer the Society of Saint Pius X regular canonical status within the Catholic Church without requiring acceptance of certain texts of the Second Vatican Council with which they disagree, a prerequisite that heretofore had been seen as a deal-breaker for the traditionalists.
It also appears the society may itself be poised to take such a historic step, urging that “perhaps only Pope Francis is able to take this step, given his unpredictability and improvisation”, according to an internal Society of St. Pius X document that was leaked to the press in recent weeks.
The Society of St. Pius X is a breakaway group founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who objected to some of the reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), including the introduction of a new Mass in vernacular languages and the broad expansion of ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue.
The memo, titled “Considerations on the Church and the position of the Society of Saint Pius X in it”, outlines six reasons why the group should accept an offer of regularization by Pope Francis, provided “an appropriate ecclesial structure” is ensured. It also addresses possible objections raised against such a move.
“It seems the time to normalize the situation of the society has come,” the memo reads.
The document, dated Feb. 19, was written by Father Franz Schmidberger, rector of the society’s seminary in Germany. Schmidberger had served as superior general of the society from 1982 to 1994.
Albeit carefully, these assertions are to some extent matched by similar utterances from Rome.
Italian Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary for the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei –  the Vatican office of the responsible for doctrinal discussions with the society – said in an April 6 interview with La Croix that “as far as the Second Vatican Council is concerned, the ground covered in the meetings over the past few years has led to an important clarification: Vatican II can be adequately understood only in the context of the full tradition of the Church and her constant magisterium.”
“Certain questions can remain ‘subject to discussion and clarification’,” Pozzo added.
Similarly, Schmidberger’s memo asserts that whilst the group would like to “return from its ‘exile'”, further discussions would be expected: “We will not be silent, more over, we will point out the errors by name. Before and after our normalization.


The old adage that liberal progressives hurled at the pre-Vatican II mentality concerning the laity is that we institutional types, meaning the hierarchy and lowerarchy just wanted the laity to pay, pray and obey.

But were the laity more of what Pope Francis seems to want in pre-Vatican II times, compared to today.

Today, we say someone is an active Catholic if they sing in the choir, distribute Holy Communion, read, usher, serve the altar. If one is a committee member or elected official on one of the myriads of committees that have developed post-Vatican II one is truly an active Catholic.

If one works for the Church as a DRE, Music Director, Pastoral Assistant and the other administrative needs we have, that makes them a super-Catholic.

Don't get me wrong. I love all our volunteers and paid personnel. But even with the many who are involved in the institutional aspects of the Church, they still constitute a minority compared to the number of Catholics who simply come to Mass, go to Confession, rear their children in the faith and try to live their Catholic lives at home, work and the public square. They may be unknown personally by the priests and parish staff and those others super involved, but still making a tremendous difference in the world precisely because of their Catholic Faith.

Prior to Vatican II we had strong families often extended families living under one roof. The children knew what it meant to be a Catholic and were taught to swim against the tide and be proud of their difference. I was taught by my very pre-Vatican II father not to wear my Catholicism on my sleeve but to live my Catholicism in a secular way--by trying to be a good person. Don't show off, be humble and live justly. And in fact many converts to the Catholic Faith were inspired by the good example of Catholics who were humble, went to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, observed the fast and abstinence days and most powerfully, went to Confession frequently. But they never discussed their faith unless asked and didn't evangelize by proselytizing. My pre-Vatican II father had been taught very well in pre-Vatican II times that proselytizing isn't what Catholics do!

Their involvement in the parish was for sacramental reasons and to help tto educate their children in the Catholic Faith. Catholics schools were used not just for a good, rounded liberal arts education but more importantly for the religious values instilled in their children. That, not the liberal arts education, was more important--the salvation of souls.

But there were Church societies and organizations run by the laity that made a difference in the world. I think of the Legion of Mary and Catholic Action to name just two.

The Catholic Action Society as Wikipedia describes it (Pre-Vatican II):

Catholic Action was the name of many groups of lay Catholics who were attempting to encourage a Catholic influence on society.

They were especially active in the nineteenth century in historically Catholic countries that fell under anti-clerical regimes such as Spain, Italy, Bavaria, France, and Belgium. Adolf Hitler attacked one of the heads of a Catholic Action group in Nazi Germany during the Night of the Long Knives. Catholic Action is not a political party, although in many times and places this distinction became blurred. 

Since World War II the concept has often been eclipsed by Christian Democrat parties that were organised to combat Communist parties and promote Catholic social justice principles in places such as Italy and West Germany.[1]

Catholic Action generally included various subgroups for youth, women, workers, etc. In the postwar period, the various national Catholic Action organizations for workers formed the World Movement of Christian Workers which remains highly active today as a voice within the Church and in society for working class Catholics.

I have to admit that I am not always sure what Pope Francis means when I listen to him or read him. It is not clear. But I think what His Holiness says in this Bulletino from the Vatican describes the work of Catholics prior to the Second Vatican Council as the ideal and seems like what the pre-Vatican II Catholic action did. Tell me what your take is on the Holy Father's words below:

The Spirit is not the 'property' of the ecclesial hierarchy, writes the Pope in his letter to president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, 26.04.2016

Vatican City, 26 April 2016 – On Friday 4 March the Holy Father granted an audience to the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (CAL), who met in the Vatican to examine the theme of the "indispensable commitment of the lay faithful in the public life of Latin American countries". On this occasion the Pope made some extemporaneous remarks. On 19 March, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., as president of the CAL, received a text in which the Holy Father continued his reflections on the theme addressed in the plenary assembly, extensive extracts of which are published below.

"To evoke the Holy faithful People of God is to evoke the objective we are invited to look towards and reflect upon. … A father cannot conceive of himself without his children. … A pastor cannot conceive of himself without a flock, whom he is called upon to serve. The pastor is the pastor of a people, and the people need him within. … Looking at the Holy faithful People of God and being aware we are an integral part of it positions us in life, and as a result the themes we we consider, in a different way. … Looking at the People of God is remembering that we all enter the Church as laypeople. The first sacrament, that which seals for ever our identity, and of which we must always be proud, is baptism. … No-one is baptised a priest nor a bishop. We have been baptised as laypeople and it is an indelible sign that no-one can ever cancel. It is good for us to remember that the Church is not an élite of priests, consecrated people and bishops, but that we all form the Holy faithful People of God. Forgetting this leads to various risks and deformations in our experience, both personal and in the community, of the ministry the Church has entrusted to us. … The Holy faithful People of God is anointed with the grace of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, at the moment of reflecting, thinking, evaluating and discerning, we must be very attentive to this anointment".

"We cannot reflect on the theme of the laity while ignoring one of the greatest deformations that Latin America must face – clericalism. … Clericalism leads to a homogenisation of the laity; treating it as an 'emissary' limits the various initiatives and efforts and, I dare say, the boldness necessary to be able to bring the Good News of the Gospel to all areas of social and above all political activity. Clericalism, far from inspiring various contributions and proposals, gradually extinguishes the prophetic flame of which the entire Church is called to bear witness in the heart of her peoples".

"There is a very interesting phenomenon that has emerged in Latin America. … I refer to popular pastoral ministry. … Pope Paul VI uses an expression that I consider fundamental: the faith of our people, its orientations, searches, desires, yearnings, when they are heard and guided, end up showing us the genuine presence of the Spirit. We trust in our People, in its memory and sense, we trust that the Holy Spirit acts in and with it, and that this Spirit is not merely the 'property' of the ecclesial hierarchy. … I have taken this example of popular pastoral ministry as a hermeneutic key that can help us understand better the action that is generated with the Holy faithful People of God prays and acts. An action that does not remain linked to the intimate sphere of the person but, on the contrary, is transformed into culture; 'An evangelised popular culture contains values of faith and solidarity capable of encouraging the development of a more just and believing society, and possesses a particular wisdom which ought to be gratefully acknowledged'.

"So, at this point we may ask ourselves: what is the meaning of the fact that laypeople are working in public life? It means looking for a way to encourage, accompany and stimulate all attempts and efforts that today are already being made to keep hope and faith alive in a world full of contradictions, especially for the poorest, and especially with the poorest. It means, as pastors, working in the midst of our people and, with our people, supporting faith and its hope. 'We need to look at our cities' – and therefore all the spaces where our people live their lives – "with a contemplative gaze, a gaze of faith which sees God dwelling in their homes, in their streets and squares'. … It is never the pastor who should say to the layperson what he must do and say; he knows well, and better than we do. It is not for the pastor to establish what the faithful must say in various spheres. As pastors, joined to our people, it is good for us to ask ourselves how we are encouraging and promoting charity and fraternity, and the desire for good, for truth and for justice. How can we ensure that corruption does not take root in our hearts".

"Very often we give in to the temptation to think that the committed layperson is one who is engaged in the works of the Church and/or in issues of the parish or diocese, and we have reflected little on how to accompany a baptised person in his or her daily public life. … Without realising, we have generated a lay élite, believing that committed laypeople are only those who work in relation "priests' matters", and we have forgotten and neglected the believer who very often exhausts his or her hope in the daily struggle to live the faith. … It is illogical, even impossible, to think that we as pastors should have a monopoly on the solutions to the many challenges that contemporary life presents to us. On the contrary, we must stay on the side of our people, accompanying us in their searches and stimulating that imagination capable of responding to the current problems. This means discerning with our people and never for our people, or without our people. As St. Ignatius would say, according to the needs of the places, times and people. … Inculturation is a process that we pastors are required to promote, encouraging the people to live their faith where and with whom they are. Inculturation is learning to discover how a specific part of today's people, in the here and now of history, lives, celebrates and announces its own faith".

"Amid our people we are asked to safeguard two memories. The memory of Jesus Christ and the memory of our ancestors. The faith we have received is a gift that has reached us in many cases from the hands of our mothers and our grandmothers. … It is this faith that has accompanied us many times in the many vicissitudes of our journey. Losing this memory means uprooting ourselves from the place we come from and then not knowing where we are going. This is fundamental; when we uproot a layperson from his or her faith, from that of his or her origins; when we uproot the Holy faithful People of God, we uproot them from their baptismal identity and thus deprive them of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Our role, our joy, the joy of the pastor, resides precisely in helping and encouraging, as many have done before us: mothers, grandmothers and fathers, the true agents of history. … The laity are part of the Holy faithful People of God, and are therefore the protagonists of the Church and the world; we are called to serve them, not to make use of them".

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


This point may seem off topic, but today if one is opposed to so-called gay rights, such as transgendered individuals using a particular bathroom or gay marriage, that person is marginalized by being labeled a segregationist or prejudice.

I wonder how many Catholic homosexuals actually support the sexual teachings of the Church but fear publicly stating so? I think which bathroom someone uses is an issue of modesty, safety and civil law, not necessarily a Catholic issue. But marriage as a part of natural law is a religious issue in general and a Catholic one in particular when it comes to the sacrament.

This brings me to Michael Voris, himself a person with strong same sex attractions, who uses vitriol against anyone in the Church who tries to treat homosexuals as one would treat any sinner. I suspect as a homosexual Michael Voris today not only believes what the Church teaches about sex and marriage but that he upholds it but in doing so shows vitriol to those who don't especially those in the Church who seem nonchalant in upholding these teachings.

Why is this? As with all sin, there is a possibility for one who despises his sin to backslide if encouraged to do so by those who are wishy-washy about moral law or relativistic. A homosexual or heterosexual doesn't need to much convincing to backslide given the nature of sexual temptations today.

This brings us to Pope Francis. Many ultra conservatives and fundamentalists in the Church perceive him as having given into the dictatorship of relativism. If one can approve of heterosexuals receiving Holy Communion under some circumstances despite their living in what is called a public adulterous union according to Church judgement (and even this evaluation is now nixed by the pope) although recognized by the state as a marriage, then anyone can do any kind of sexual activity, especially privately if it is okay to commit adultery publicly and receive Holy Communion.

If one has spent a lot of personal energy on avoiding homosexual sex or any kind of fornication or adultery, that person would feel betrayed by the pope or the Church when either seem to condone a lifestyle that was previously clearly and explicitly condemned by Holy Mother Church.

When, though, does righteous anger cross the line and become mortal sin itself? Is one's righteous living standing on such thin ice that any perception of condoning the sin one has tried so hard to avoid could cause one's sexual morality to collapse like a house of cards?

Sunday, April 24, 2016


I have convinced myself that there are no more rats living in my rectory or its walls and I do now sleep soundly at night. But I still suffer from Post Traumatic Rat Stress Syndrome because of it. Over 12 years, we have killed at least 10 large rats in my rectory!!!!! This does not help my PTSRS!!!!!!!


I am posting this before I have watched it so I don't know if this will please traditionalists or not in terms of a papal teen Mass at St. Peter's Square. But I am sure the comments will inform me! This occurred this morning I think. And my clairvoyance says it will be a glorious example of what to do, not what not to do or a YIKES experience from a more traditional perspective. Let's just say that those who promote lifeteen Masses as they are normally celebrated by be dismayed by this teen Mass:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis presiding over a Jubilee Mass for Teens in St Peter's Square on Sunday told them "the true friends of Jesus stand out essentially by the genuine love that shines forth in their way of life." He also told the 13 to 16 year olds that although love is the path to happiness, it is not an easy one and requires effort. He also said, happiness has no price. "It cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love."

Below find Pope Francis' homily during Sunday's Jubilee Mass for Teens

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

Dear young friends, what an enormous responsibility the Lord gives us today! He tells us that the world will recognize the disciples of Jesus by the way they love one another. Love, in other words, is the Christian’s identity card, the only valid “document” identifying us as Christians. If this card expires and is not constantly renewed, we stop being witnesses of the Master. So I ask you: Do you wish to say yes to Jesus’ invitation to be his disciples? Do you wish to be his faithful friends? The true friends of Jesus stand out essentially by the genuine love that shines forth in their way of life. Do you want to experience his love? Let us learn from him, for his words are a school of life, a school where we learn to love.

Before all else, love is beautiful, it is the path to happiness. But it is not an easy path. It is demanding and it requires effort. Think, for example, of when we receive a gift. It makes us happy, but receiving a gift means that someone generous has invested time and effort; by their gift they also give us a bit of themselves, a sacrifice they have made. Think too of the gift that your parents and group leaders have given you in allowing you to come to Rome for this Jubilee day dedicated to you. They planned, organized, and prepared everything for you, and this made them happy, even if it meant that they had to give up a trip for themselves. To love means to give, not only something material, but also something of one’s self: one’s own time, one’s friendship, one’s own abilities.

Look to the Lord, who is never outdone in generosity. We receive so many gifts from him, and every day we should thank him… Let me ask you something. Do you thank the Lord every day? Even if we forget to do so, he never forgets, each day, to give us some special gift. It is not something material and tangible that we can use, but something even greater, a life-long gift. He offers us his faithful friendship, which he will never take back. Even if you disappoint him and walk away from him, Jesus continues to want the best for you and to remain close to you; he believes in you even more than you believe in yourself. This is very important! Because the biggest threat to growing up well comes from thinking that no one cares about us, from feeling that we are all alone. The Lord, on the other hand, is always with you and he is happy to be with you. As he did with his first disciples, he looks you in the eye and he calls you to follow him, to “put out into the deep” and to “cast your nets wide” trusting in his words and using your talents in life, in union with him, without fear. Jesus is waiting patiently for you. He awaits your response. He is waiting for you to say “yes”.

Dear young friends, at this stage in your lives you have a growing desire to demonstrate and receive affection. The Lord, if you let him teach you, will show you how to make tenderness and affection even more beautiful. He will guide your hearts to “love without being possessive”, to love others without trying to own them but letting them be free. There is always a temptation to let our affections be tainted by an instinctive desire to “have to have” what we find pleasing. Our consumerist culture reinforces this tendency. Yet when we hold on too tightly to something, it fades, it dies, and then we feel confused, empty inside. The Lord, if you listen to his voice, will reveal to you the secret of love. It is caring for others, respecting them, protecting them and waiting for them.

At this point in life you feel also a great longing for freedom. Many people will say to you that freedom means doing whatever you want. But here you have to be able to say no. Freedom is not the ability simply to do what I want. This makes us self-centred and aloof, and it prevents us from being open and sincere friends. Instead, freedom is the gift of being able to choose the good. The free person is the one who chooses what is good, what is pleasing to God, even if it requires effort. Only by courageous and firm decisions do we realize our greatest dreams, the dreams which it is worth spending our entire lives to pursue. Don’t be content with mediocrity, with “simply going with the flow”, with being comfortable and laid back. Don’t believe those who would distract you from the real treasure, which you are, by telling you that life is beautiful only if you have many possessions. Be sceptical about people who want to make you believe that you are only important if you act tough like the heroes in films or if you wear the latest fashions. Your happiness has no price. It cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love.

That is because love is a free gift which calls for an open heart; it is a noble responsibility which is life-long; it is a daily task for those who can achieve great dreams! Love is nurtured by trust, respect and forgiveness. Love does not happen because we talk about it, but when we live it: it is not a sweet poem to study and memorize, but is a life choice to put into practice! How can we grow in love? The secret, once again, is the Lord: Jesus gives us himself in the Mass, he offers us forgives and peace in Confession. There we learn to receive his love, to make it ours and to give it to the world. And when loving seems hard, when it is difficult to say no to something wrong, look up at Jesus on the cross, embrace the cross and don’t ever let go of his hand. He will point you ever higher, and pick you up whenever you fall.

I know that you are capable of acts of great friendship and goodness. With these you are called to build the future, together with others and for others, but never against anyone! You will do amazing things if you prepare well, starting now, by living your youth and all its gifts to the fullest and without fear of hard work. Be like sporting champions, who attain high goals by quiet daily effort and practice. Let your daily programme be the works of mercy. Enthusiastically practice them, so as to be champions in life! In this way you will be recognized as disciples of Jesus. And your joy will be complete.


This is just conjecture on my part, but because MV has been so shrill in going after gays in the Church or elsewhere, I suspect he has ruffled many feathers in the gay community, Catholic or otherwise. It is not the officials of the archdiocese or the Cardinal by any means outing him, but others and he knows the gig is up in terms of his own orientation and how mean spirited he has been towards those who have the same orientation and have yet to repent as he has. And if there has been any backsliding on his part, as sinners are wont to do, then he knows that what he is dishing out will come back to him in the full rage of those seeking revenge against him. Revenge of course is a mortal sin too.

That's the problem, his acerbic, damning tongue and lack of understanding of where people are and how they can be led to conversion. But worse, it is a sign of self-loathing. And a sin against charity, directed towards others or even oneself, as I have said over and over and over again to those who are so self-righteous in the most ugly ways is a mortal sin too and if all mortal sins are equal, then mortal sins against charity deserve the same condemnation that MV dishes out to gays and the gay cabal.

And how odd it is that this is what Pope Francis is trying to teach the Church at this juncture in salvation history. His "who am I to judge" statement is quite a contrast to MV and his ilk and the damage they are causing to the Church's mission to reach the lost and bring them back, not with vinegar but with honey.


Still, there’s an unavoidable irony about the fact that a pope elected in part to remedy a perceived “governance gap” could end up being seen instead as having perpetuated it.

John Allen has an insightful article in today's CRUX about the same-old, same-old, when it comes to Byzantine maneuvers in the Vatican administration which you can read by pressing this sentence.

It appears, perhaps, that Pope Francis doesn't truly care about being a good administrator and maybe has thrown his hands up in disgust at the behind the scenes Byzantine maneuvers which characterize how Italians do things (and I can say that as a half Italian whose brain is all Italian and was born there in Naples of all places).  The corruption and power plays in the Vatican escalated under Pope Saint John Paul II who was not known to be a good administrator and absent from Rome a good amount of the time. Things really got dicey when his health compromised him for so many years.

Pope Benedict wasn't a good administrator either. He relied on poor choices to do that, cardinals that did not serve him well whatsoever despite the Holy Father's loyalty to them.  Pope Benedict was an intellectual and an absent administrator preferring his books and the Liturgy and the trappings of the papacy.

And it now appears that Pope Francis might not be a good administrator and his absences are more political in thrust, although Pope Saint John Paul II was political too as it concerns his role in the collapse of communism in Poland and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union--you can't get any more political than that!

Here are some money quotes from John Allen's article which you can access HERE

Through both word and deed, Francis has a remarkable knack for finding ways to move the ball on the social and political causes he cares about most.

Francis has become so globally visible and consequential, it’s sometimes easy to forget that he wasn’t elected to the papacy in March 2013 primarily to solve Europe’s refugee crisis, or to fight climate change, or to pave the way for Cuba and the U.S. to restore diplomatic relations.

When the cardinals huddled in the conclave three years ago, their diagnosis was instead that internal ecclesiastical governance had been adrift in the Vatican for quite a while, really since the late John Paul II years, and among other qualities they wanted a new pope who would get the system under control, choking off future scandal and making sure Rome set a positive example for the Church rather than offering a case study in what not to do.

Of late, however, there have been reminders that Francis’ success on the global stage is not really matched by comparable breakthroughs as a manager.

 Over the past quarter-century, two areas above all have generated persistent scandal and heartache for the Vatican, and were waiting for a new pope to take up: The child sexual abuse scandals, and money.


Celebrating the garden

 This is on the front page of the Metro Section of The Sunday Augusta Chronicle. Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Augusta was closed in 1970 almost destined to be torn down but saved by a Methodist philanthropist who restored it with all its Catholic items to include altars and statuary (except pews) and renamed it Sacred Heart Cultural Center. Most Catholics in Augusta are glad that Sacred Heart is celebrating something! I predict, though, it will return to Catholic use one day; when I do not know, but mark my word...but Augusta is on the verge of a growth explosion and downtown Renaissance due to a number of issues surrounding homeland security and cyber security and a new visionary president of Augusta's prestigious Augusta University (now combined Medical College of Georgia and Augusta State University formerly combined and called Georgia Regents University, I graduated from there when it was Augusta College) poised to become a large destination campus centered downtown .

 See more photos from Chronicle staff photographers at

ToDD BEnnETT/STAFF Visitors browse vendor booths during the Sacred Heart Garden Festival on Saturday. The festival continues from noon to 5 p.m. today at Sacred Heart Cultural Center. One-day tickets, excluding the garden tours, cost $10.

Virginia Allen zooms in on a spotted butterfly at the butterfly house. For more information on the specific gardens that are featured in this year’s tour schedule, visit the website

Lisa Thweatt snaps a picture of a butterfly with her cellphone inside the butterfly house at the garden festival.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


There is a reason for the seal of confession and I support it wholeheartedly even for the worse hypocrites.

Public confession of a sinner in order to help those of us mired in our own mortal sins to know God's love and the hope we have in Christ must be done very carefully and not in an exhibitionist sort of way or a self-serving way.

Michael Voris gave a very sober public confession. It is so matter-of-fact and devoid of emotion, that I hope he is able to let it all out in a private forum with a trained spiritual director or Catholic therapist. For a man like him to admit publicly to what he has admitted has to be humiliating and degrading.

The written transcript of his public confession should have been sufficient.

The one area where Michael Voris must continue to work out is his puritanical view of God's punishment. It isn't Catholic. It is more Lutheran or Calvinistic. It doesn't leave room for God's grace in purgatory even for what "appears" to be an unrepentant sinner.

Read what Michael Voris says here and then I will comment in red:

(This part is great!) I was thrilled, over the top with gratitude for what God had done for me through my mom and her suffering. He had rescued me from a miserable, horrible spiritual darkness where I lost almost all understanding of myself. And in order to understand the great mercy of God here, you must realize the corresponding great depths of evil into which I had plunged myself. Those were dreadful days, years.

(This is where I believe Michael lacks insights into the nature of true mortal sin and how only God will determine our eternal fate, be it heaven or hell. We can't condemn anyone or ourselves to hell only God can and He makes no mistakes. I will comment after these two sentences:)I had great pain to overcome from childhood and my youth and instead of recommending myself to God in my youth, I gave in to the flesh and died spiritually. I shudder every time I think what would now be my lot had I died in a traffic accident or something.

Evidently Michael had experienced great suffering in his childhood. For something to authentically be a mortal sin, three things are required. 1) serious matter; 2) one knows that it is sinful; 3) one commits the sin with full consciousness of what one is doing, usually with forethought and planning.

If Michael was compromised in any way with number three, that would make the serious matter and even knowing it was serious a venial sin, not a mortal sin. 

(Neither the Church, the pope or Michael himself can definitively declare that anyone is in or would be in hell. Michael has not learned this evidently:) I have never made a secret that my life prior to my reversion was extremely sinful. I have said many times — in public — that I was in a state of mortal sin, and had I died, I would have been damned...I gave up myself — my masculinity, my identity, my self-understanding, my own dignity as a baptized Catholic. As I have said publicly, without the details, I lived a horrible life and would be in Hell had I been killed before returning to the Faith.

The rest of this is great! Let us pray that as Michael continues to go through this earthly purgatory, or purgation, that he will be purified of his over the top acerbic statements and the role he has taken on himself to be judge and jury of himself and now others who fail. That's is God's prerogative. Let us pray that Michael works in concert with the Magisterium, local and universal and not is isolation or a self-righteous way!) From the time of my return to the Faith, I have wanted nothing than for others to experience the joy and life-giving truth of the Catholic Church, to know that the dead can be raised, to deeply consider what is truly meant by "With God all things are possible."

All things are possible. "Though your sins be as scarlet, I shall make them white as wool." Even the most seemingly difficult, never-can-happen, not-in-a-million-attempts kind of things. All things are possible. No thing is impossible for God. He can even restore your formerly shattered, confused sexuality. It does not matter — whatever the issue, whatever the sin, whatever the depth of the deepest darkness, there is nowhere God can not come to you and rescue you.  

He did it for countless men and women with horrible, horrible lives who became saints: Paul, Augustine, Francis, Ignatius, Margaret of Cortona, the patron saint of reformed prostitutes.

The Church is filled with such stories, so much so that one could almost say it appears the mission of the Church is to collect miserable sinners and turn them into saints. But that is exactly what the mission of the Church is!